When I was 17 years old I tucked my tail between my legs and I ran away from home as quickly as I could without having to service old men for money. I went into the military to get as far away from my home town, my family, and my past as a 17 year old with a high school diploma could. While growing up, there was nothing I wanted more than to get away from that place. I wanted to go to NYC and live the glamorous city life, not the life of a Republican majority small town, where the smell of cow shit was as normal as the maximum security prisons that dotted the town. After all, this was New York State.... where Rockefeller's drug laws from 1973 and Reagan's War on Drugs has left New York State's prisons over populated with drug offenders who have no business being in maximum security prisons.
Getting out of this place had been my main goal from the time I was 14 and took my first trip to NYC, until my high school graduation at 17. Not because of the town exactly, it was actually a very pleasant place to grow up... boring, yet safe. Kick the Can was a game routinely played by all the neighborhood kids well into the dark hours of summer. My main reason was because of all the craziness that was my family. It was the drugged and drunken binges that my Mother would go on, where she would "disappear" for 3 days and "Mildred" would step in... stabbing notes into the doors of our house with butcher knives, letting us know that "Mom is on strike and that Mildred was home." It was my homicidal sibling turning the dryer on with my cat inside it, killing it (I'm fairly certain that was on purpose). It was the violent fights my other sibling and I would have that often resulted in one of us getting stabbed or hog tied by the other. It was the men that came to our house when "Mildred" was home. I didn't know at the time that these things were not *quite* normal, they were just part of the life that I knew. As soon as I had some control over my future, I exerted it and left. I knew that if I stayed there I would end up working at K-Mart, having 3 children, and probably living in a trailer. I was a precocious child, I knew that life was not for me.
I have not always been this open about my life, but at some point in my life I found it therapeutic to discuss some of these things... subsequently, I discovered that I was "abnormal." For many years after I left, I had a lot of guilt and a lot of homesickness that would just not go away. I would travel home often to visit, and often times the visits would end with violent fights and arguments that left us not talking to each other or with black eyes. I don't know when it happened exactly, but at some point I decided that I had to live for me and that I had to look out for myself because our families have a way of bringing out the best and the worst in us. My sister still has the ability to send me into a rage within 3 seconds of walking into her door, but I have learned to control myself a little better than I used to. I have learned that stupid cliche of "life is short" and I do my best to remember that when dealing with all of the bullshit that is spewed at us in our lives.
I'm extremely jealous of the people in this world who have stable, loving relationships with their families but I also can't say that I would change the circumstances or the experiences with mine. We don't get to choose our families, it is just a crap shoot of who gets what, but I can change my perspective when dealing with them. I can try to make the best of the situation at hand, and I can do my best to let things go that I have no control over. I still struggle with this... there are times when I am so angry with my siblings that I am left in a fuming rage of wanting to round house kick the refrigerator or their faces, but lucky for me (and them) I live 5 hours away from them and can walk away from what I don't feel like dealing with, or not answer the phone. Maybe this isn't the best approach for dealing with it, but it is what has allowed me to stay sane, stay out of jail, and still talk to them (sometimes).
Our families have the ability to destroy our lives or to enrich them. Trying to find the middle ground is something that I have struggled with for almost 20 years. At the end of each day, I have to remember that this is my life. It is my only life and I must be the best person that I can be. I must be kind, I must be compassionate, and I must be honest. These are all values that my family taught me, even if they do not practice them... but through their actions, I learned these lessons that they did not mean to teach and I am thankful for that. They inadvertently contributed in a positive way to the values and principles of how I live my life.
Family is such a delicate thing to deal with for most of us in this world. Sometimes I'm an asshole and get a little preachy about it, I need to learn to
keep my mouth shut and let people deal with things on their own. I just can't help being pissed off at shows like Leave it to Beaver, Lassie, My Two Dads, Full House, and Growing Pains for filling our heads with expectations of what the normal family looks like. That shit isn't normal, that is why they make TV shows depicting "normal," because it doesn't really exist. It is fiction that is meant to make us all feel like shit about the actual lives that we have. The same exact way that TV/Marketing still plays on our insecurities.
I'm leaving tomorrow morning to go home for a weekend visit, wish me luck! This is my life. :)